With the seven-hour time difference between Paris and China, it was still very early in the morning when Xie Xuanming arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport after a thirteen-hour flight.
When the plane landed, the director next to Xie Xuanming glanced at his mobile phone and suddenly his expression changed drastically.
It was the first time Xie Xuanming had seen him look so pale in all the time they had spent together on the set, so he couldn’t help but look sideways and ask, “What’s wrong?”
The director raised his head and glanced to the side with an ugly expression.
Xie Xuanming followed his gaze, just in time to see the accompanying assistant turn away and avoid his gaze.
Xie Xuanming frowned and repeated: “What’s wrong?”
The director’s expression was uncertain. After two seconds, he calmed down as if he had made up his mind, put away his mobile phone and said, “Something happened at home.”
“Very serious?” Xie Xuanming stared at him.
The director stammered and avoided the point, and Xie Xuanming couldn’t judge the truth or falsehood of his words for now.
At this moment, the plane cabin door opened.
“Teacher Xie, let’s go.” The assistant urged him forward, “Hurry up and get some rest at the hotel.”
The people behind him were noisy, and the passengers were all in a hurry to get off the plane. Xie Xuanming had no intention of getting in the way, so he could only let go of his doubts and follow the assistant.
A bus took him halfway across the airport; on the way Xie Xuanming tried to turn on his phone several times to read the news, but was stopped by his assistant with some excuses.
“Teacher Xie, take the VIP exit.” After receiving the luggage, the accompanying crew stopped Xie Xuanming who was about to step out through the normal exit.
“It’s not necessary.” Xie Xuanming was baffled. It was difficult for the fame of domestic celebrities to spread abroad, and even if there were enough fans, it would definitely not reach the scale that needed to be avoided.
“Prevention is better than cure.” The staff made a ”please” gesture.
There was no need to dwell on trivial matters, so Xie Xuanming followed him without thinking too much. As he passed the general exit, he looked out and was surprised to see a crowd of people, mostly with cameras, mostly Asian faces.
Where did so many reporters come from?
Xie Xuanming wondered for a moment before he and his assistant stepped into the VIP lane.
In the car, Xie Xuanming finally managed to turn on his mobile phone, but he hadn’t been able to read the news as the assistant took out the itinerary and talked to him about the program for today.
The award ceremony was not a trivial matter. Xie Xuanming put down his mobile phone and concentrated on checking his schedule.
Before getting out of the car, the assistant answered the phone, hung up and said with his face changed: “Teacher Xie, you may need to give me your mobile phone.”
He stretched out his hand, but Xie Xuanming did not hand out the phone: “What?”
“A crew member’s phone was bugged.” The assistant looked solemn, “Now the director asks everyone to hand in their mobile phones for inspection.”
Xie Xuanming’s expression also sank. The privacy of celebrities was more likely to be spied on than normal people, so naturally he was aware of it.
He took the mobile phone out of his pocket without thinking, but when he was about to hand it to the assistant, he suddenly withdrew it.
The assistant’s palm closed, grabbing an empty space. A trace of panic flashed across his face, but he quickly raised his eyes and pretended to look at Xie Xuanming calmly.
Fortunately, Xie Xuanming was immersed in his own thoughts and did not notice the emotional changes of the assistant: “I want to make a phone call.”
Assistant: “…to whom?”
“Ji Hui.” The assistant knew about the relationship between the two, and Xie Xuanming did not intend to hide anything from him except for the matter of rebirth.
Any connection to the country at this moment would be an extra danger; the assistant did not want him to dial the number but could not find a valid reason to refuse, so he could only watch Xie Xuanming call.
“Hey, good morning.” When he was talking to Ji Sheng, Xie Xuanming’s voice was much softer, “I’m in Paris.”
“Up so early… have you had breakfast yet?”
“The live broadcast has been transferred to the morning? Can Su Jing get up?”
“Is everything okay?”
Xie Xuanming’s tone was peaceful, but the assistant was on pins and needles. Every second of the call was torture for him.
Others didn’t know, but the assistant knew Xie Xuanming’s character very well.
This “tyrant” of the 21st century was unpredictable; if he learned that his little lover was taken advantage of by someone while he was away, or that his little lover was hiding a scandal from him…
He would get furious on the spot and his actions would be unforeseen and irreparable.
The assistant shivered.
Tonight, after attending the award ceremony and becoming the youngest actor of the new generation to be exposed to international awards, Xie Xuanming’s career, along with the entire Xuansheng, would soar… At this important juncture, there had to be no accidents.
Seeing that Xie Xuanming had finished talking to his little lover and handed over his phone without any reaction, the assistant breathed a sigh of relief, put away the phone hastily and said: “When you get to the hotel, go rest at once. The makeup artist will come at ten o’clock, then you have a meal with the French side at noon, and there will be an interview at four o’clock in the afternoon…”
After he repeated the process several times, Xie Xuanming felt so drowsy that he fell asleep as soon as he was next to the hotel bed.
He didn’t sleep until the morning. About four or five hours later, the door of the room was knocked on, and the assistant timidly asked, “Teacher Xie, are you asleep?”
Xie Xuanming slept lightly but was grumpy when someone woke him up, so he asked “What’s the matter?” in a very bad tone.
The assistant at the door was very reluctant to disturb him; he wished Xie Xuanming could sleep directly until seven o’clock at night when the award ceremony opened.
However, the person who called was a famous director, and the assistant couldn’t afford to neglect him. At the risk of angering Xie Xuanming, he had to notify him.
“There is a call for you.” The assistant said helplessly at the door, “It’s from Director Lin Siji.”
Xie Xuanming did not reply. Two seconds later, the door opened. Xie Xuanming, with his hair in a mess, took the mobile phone from the assistant and slammed the door without looking up.
The action was so swift that the assistant didn’t react at once.
He stood at the door dumbfounded for a while, raised his hand and dropped it, finally not daring to knock.
Three missed calls covered the message underneath. Xie Xuanming hurriedly scanned it and called back. Before he could speak, he heard Lin Siji on the other side say lazily, “Congratulations, you’ve successfully come out of the closet.”
With this statement, Xie Xuanming’s prepared threat of “you better have something big to say” was immediately rebuffed.
Xie Xuanming had just woken up and his brain was not awake yet but his sense of danger and discomfort urged him to ask, “What’s wrong?”
In response to his confusion, Lin Siji gave an unsurprised laugh: “You really don’t know.”
“What happened?” Xie Xuanming emphasised.
Lin Siji didn’t have a habit of teasing mad dogs. He took it in stride and told him everything about the domestic public opinion scandal, meticulously including Xuansheng’s solution.
“Your company is quite deep. It contacted Jinlai to stir up the waters, and even though the method is ten years too old-fashioned, using one scandal to suppress another… the public is not tired of it.” Lin Siji tsk’ed. “The PR department was also bold, going to Jinlai’s signature artist Yang Yan, never mind that the other party and your little lover are both male… Fortunately, thanks to my interference, Xuansheng changed the target…”
Xie Xuanming didn’t have the mind to finish listening to Lin Siji’s oral essay full of boasting, hung up, and dialled Ji Sheng’s number.
The call didn’t get through.
His face completely black, Xie Xuanming turned and walked out.
The door slammed.
The assistant who was squatting at the door, scratching his head, stood up with hastily, saw Xie Xuanming’s stormy look and wailed in his heart that his life would soon be over.
Xie Xuanming had no intention of reducing his crime and sentenced him to a suspended sentence.
“The company confiscated Ji Hui’s mobile phone?” Xie Xuanming’s voice was as cold as a layer of ice.
“No.” The assistant nearly choked, but he was also smart, and fearfully guessing that this question was caused by Xie Xuanming’s inability to contact Ji Hui, he added, “Ji Hui should still be broadcasting live at this point.”
“Right.” Now that it had been exposed, the assistant half broke the jar and half tried to make amends, “The PR department told him to respond to the news through the live broadcast.”
Xie Xuanming’s complexion darkened another shade, as gloomy as a night in the deep sea when a storm was approaching.
Another game was over, and the live broadcast was briefly terminated. Ji Sheng’s hand dropped from the keyboard as he moved his fingers slightly.
“When the broadcast starts again, it’s time to read the comments.” Su Jing reminded him.
The live broadcast had been going on for more than four hours. The two of them sat in front of the computer and kept playing games non-stop. Ji Sheng seemed to be unable to see the barrage of inquiries on the screen, so Su Jing also pretended to be deaf and dumb and kept his mouth shut except for thanking him for coming.
But no matter how much they avoided it, it was finally time to respond.
“I know.” Ji Sheng said.
“…” Su Jing looked at his calm expression and sighed, “Although your skills are bad, your mentality is really suitable for being a professional gamer. Mount Tai collapses before you, and your face won’t change its colour. Much better than those newcomers in our team who cry and weep as soon as something goes slightly wrong.”
He was joking to enliven the atmosphere, and Ji Sheng also cooperated and laughed with him.
Su Jing knew that his heart was not as calm as it seemed, so he stretched out his hand and patted his shoulder, saying succinctly: “Go for it.”
He added, “No matter what you say, I will be on your side.”
“Thank you in advance.” Ji Sheng relaxed slightly and smiled at him.
“I’m ready to turn on the camera again.” The assistant’s reminder made their slightly relaxed nerves tighten again.
The camera turned on, the live stream restarted, and a dense barrage poured in instantly.
“Okay, that’s it for today’s live game broadcast. Let’s read the comments below.” Su Jing returned to his usual anchor persona, took the tablet given by his assistant, pretended to be blind and unable to see countless comments related to ”Xie Xuanming”, and ended the session by flirting with the few normal comments, as he usually did in his daily broadcasts.
He handed over the tablet, and Ji Sheng took the heavy electronic device.
Ji Sheng also followed Su Jing’s example, picking the less important comments and responding to them.
But some things still could not be avoided.
Ji Sheng lowered his head; he didn’t need to look to notice the PR people watching him from not far away.
He had clearly made the third choice last night, but then backtracked when the PR department was preparing to send out a press release.
The closeness between him and Xie Xuanming was obvious to everyone. Even the company had to give him some face. Although they felt uncomfortable, they still terminated the PR act.
But it was impossible to let public opinion drag on like this. The live broadcast in the morning was the deadline set by Xuansheng for him. Whatever response he made here, Xuansheng would cooperate with the PR.
“What do you think of the hot search this morning?”
Finally, Ji Sheng read out this comment.
In the Paris hotel, Xie Xuanming sat in a chair, his back straight, staring at the screen without blinking.
On the live broadcast page, the barrage was blocked, and only Ji Sheng was left with his eyes downcast, his thoughts unreadable.
He paused for a long moment, perhaps another second, before finally sitting up straight and raising his eyes.
“With such news, first of all, I need to apologise to my fans…”
The slightly distorted voice was coming from the screen.
Ji Sheng said a sincere apology and bowed to the camera.
After straightening up, he looked at the camera, looking at someone who was separated from him by the sea and time difference.
“As for my response… what I want to say is…”
“My position is consistent with that of Teacher Xie Xuanming.”